Episiotomy: All you need to know about that scary 'vaginal cut'
Episiotomy was once a routine part of vaginal delivery but now it is only done in four scary situations. Read on to know it all.
If you are nearing your due date and have planned a vaginal delivery then apart from the labour pains you must also prepare yourself for Episiotomy.
It is a surgical incision or a cut that is made in the perineum—the tissues between the vaginal opening and the anus—to enable smoother delivery. However, there are various degrees of incisions (from one to four) based on the progression of the childbirth.
But this is just basic information, here's what all expecting mums nearing their due date should know about Episiotomy.
When is Episiotomy done?
Episiotomy was once a routine part of vaginal delivery. But now it is only done if needed; that is, only if the vaginal passage of the delivering mum is too small for the baby to come out.
So your gyneacologist may recommend an Episiotomy in the following cases:
- In the likelihood of extensive vaginal tear where the vaginal wall appears to tear as the baby comes out
- In the likelihood that the baby is coming our in an abnormal position
- In the likelihood that the baby is too large to pass through your vaginal passage
- In the likelihood that the baby is distressed and needs to be brought out quickly
In such cases, if you are to be administered an Episiotomy, you may receive a local anesthesia. Once you are on it, you will not be able to feel the tear or the stitches post delivery.
What type of Episiotomy/ incision will you be given?
Again, depending on the position of the baby or natural tear of the vagina, the mum in labour can be given two types of Episiotomy.
- Median or midline Episiotomy: This type of incision is given vertically and could be small (extending from the vaginal opening to right above the anus). Although this type of incision is easy to repair, it does, however, have the risk of extending all the way to the anus.
- Mediolateral Episiotomy: This type of incision is made at an angle. It is made all the way to the anus and may take longer to repair and heal and is also painful in many cases.
The advantage of an Episiotomy (of both types) is that they may prevent natural vaginal tear. But now the question is how long does an Episiotomy take to heal?
How quickly will an Episiotomy repair?
If you are administered an Episiotomy or have a vaginal tear during delivery, rest assured, it will take a few weeks to heal. It may even hurt for a few weeks, especially when you sit or walk. And if the tear or incision is extensive, to may take more than four weeks to heal.
However, you must remember that stitches administered in an Episiotomy are dissolvable and absorb into the body as they heal.
5 natural ways to heal an Episiotomy at home
Meanwhile, it is always advisable to take natural precautions to hurry the process of healing. You can try the following for starters and consult with your specialist about them as well.
- Cold compress: You can soothe the wound using a cold compress. Place the ice pack about the sanitary napkin or you can even insert a chilled (doctor recommended) pads that can be placed between the wound and your sanitary napkin.
- Warm water therapy: The incision may make it quite uncomfortable for you to pass the urine, it may even sting. So in order to take the sting out of the urination process, you can put warm water while peeing and gently dry it with a warm cloth.
- Careful bowel movements: While sitting for your bowel movements, make sure to place a clean warm or cold pad over the wound. Do not put too much pressure on your tummy because it can aggregate the pain and/or force a stitch out.
- Say no to soaps: More often than not soaps can aggregate the pain and act as an irritant and may add to pain in the perineum. So use plain warm water, it is enough to keep the area clean.
- Opt for a sitz bath: This works wonders for aching vaginal tears and incisions. In fact, doctors recommend sitting in a tub of warm water with few drops of disinfectant at least twice a day after a vaginal delivery. This not only disinfects, but also soothes the pain around the area.
Remember to always consult your doctor about Episiotomy when you discuss your birth plan.